There’s something so homely about Dappled Cities recent outing Five. Everything feels in its right place; ebbs and flows so elegantly that you feel like you’re a part of the album. And maybe that’s what makes me love ‘Five’ so much. All the bass lines, the high-pitched vocals, the reverb, oh god that reverb. It’s an all you can eat buffet, lovingly cooked and presented by five world-class chefs who know exactly what they’re doing.
From the get-go, opener In Light of No One fades in with a beautiful crescendo, bestowing the beauty of Five, letting the bass line plod along as vocalists Dave Rennick and Tim Derricourt beautifully intertwine their lines with the rise and fall of the progression of the song. The landscape created on just this song along is enough to paint an incredible picture of what is to come. Follow-up track and lead single Stone Men is by far one of the best tracks presented. The acoustic guitar twiddles away as a slick drum/bass combination carries forward the song. For much of the album, choruses are the highlights of the album, progressing the steady beats into massive flows of noise, beautifully capturing every performance with an incredibly elegant touch. Every song never overwhelms or overreaches; every key struck and guitar string plucked has a purpose, and the album is certainly better for it.
A surprising aspect of Five is how incredibly robust the album continues to be track after track. The reverb that is soaked into every track builds this incredible world around the listener, and it’s so incredibly easy to get lost in it all. Spacechild, Weightless, and Know Your Historyall provide fantastic landscapes to escape into, but never tire or seem samey. The band’s ability to create a perfect blend of indie rock with heavy electronic elements is immaculate. And even when the band go more indie-esque on Coraline and What Is Impossible, the songs are so infectiously fun, with their groovy bass lines and up and down guitars, don’t be surprised if you start dancing in your chair.
And even as the back-end of the album arrives, Dappled Cities still have a few tricks up their sleeve. The bass-heavy Bad Feeling is a highlight, the vocals are sung with such finesse that once the chorus comes around, you’re ready to belt out the lyrics with the band. The bass makes another fantastic appearance on That Sound, but the vocals lead the charge, providing a fantastic change of pace as drums let loose throughout the track. And as the reverb-soaked closer Driving Home at Night Alone plods along, providing the best vocal performance of the album, you just want to go back and go through it again.
Everything that encompasses great indie and electronic is packaged so meticulously within Five that nothing else will ever feel the same. Painting themselves a new landscape to work with, Dappled Cities create something so incredibly their own, it’s hard at times to remain grounded. Every guitar line, vocal delivery, and key hit is so incredibly thought-out, that nothing feels peculiar or misplaced. The production of every track is so clean and engrossing, drawing the listener into this world Five has created. So sit back, close your eyes, and take in possibly one of the best indie albums of the year.
I had the pleasure of chatting to the band about Five and all that it encompassed. Check it out below.
As the name suggests, Five is your fifth album as a band. How have you maintained the drive to continue releasing music? Have there been times you thought Five would never see release?
There were definitely times where it felt like we should pack it in. We were tired, so tired after the last big tour (after Lake Air), and none of us really wanted to go back on the road again. And that’s part of the expectations – you make a record, then you take yourself out on the road. But then we realised that you can just make a record with no expectations and that thrilled us. Once we came to that point, we leaped into it. We love playing together still – it’s like an old shoe that you slip on – except this shoe has five guys in it and they make a comforting sound and make you laugh.
With such a large gap between releases for you guys, have any of your interests, music related or otherwise, affected your creative approach this time around?
We spent less time together for this record, so that was something. We deliberately set aside a patch over a summer to meet up, rehearse and then record the album whereas previously we’d spend a year together writing and figuring things out – getting in each other’s heads. I think that led to less over-thinking – just getting it done. And you hear that on the record – it’s quite sprawling and unrestrained and that came from not obsessively thinking about it in the lead up.
Was there a specific sound you were striving for with Five? Any specific influences that played a part in the creation of the record?
Relaxed and happy. That was the aim. Sure, it didn’t end that way. With lyrics that aren’t about happiness, then inevitably the sound shifts. But we set out to make a simple record – something with limited instrumentation, a focus on vocal harmonies and lots of space. Then, in classic Dappled Cities fashion, we couldn’t resist throwing reverb over a bass synthesizer chain plugged through the drums and sample bird sounds and stagger them throughout the record. So – aims of simplicity, but ends of wildness.
What songs do you think perfectly encapsulate the feel Five is going for?
I’d go for Know Your History and Weightless. Weightless because it’s all class. Slow, spacious, funny at points and then big and beautiful by the end. Know your History because it’s loose as hell – it almost falls apart constantly then rights itself – it’s loopy, which is us in a nutshell or shoe.
Is this the last hurrah for Dappled Cities, or the beginning of something bigger and better than before?
Hell no! This is the beginning of the rest of our lives! I’m going to take a guess and say we’ve got another 12 records in us. And that’s not including our Live at Budokan series, which will add another 5 albums to the mix. Then you’ve got the period where we make solo records but we all play on them anyway. So let’s call it an even 50. Next one out next year. That’s a promise that I will loosely keep.